Plans to impose tolls on motorists entering the city of Edinburgh were announced yesterday as part of an £800m road improvements package.
Edinburgh City Council said the scheme would use camera technology to identify registration plates and charge drivers up to £3 a day for entering the city centre between 7am and 7pm, Monday to Friday.
With the local population predicted to grow by 5,000 in the next 15 years and car ownership forecast to increase by up to 38 per cent, the council said the charges were necessary as part of a "major and radical" restructuring of the transport network. It said money raised from the tolls – to come into effect in 2005 – would be used for the reintroduction of trams, improved bus services, enhanced rail networks and better facilities for pedestrians and cyclists.
Motoring organisations said the plans would only work so long as the promised transport improvements were made first. Neil Greig, head of policy for the AA in Scotland, said: "Motorists don't trust the city council to plan and execute the current transport plans."
Sue Nicholson, head of campaigns for RAC, said: "It is absolutely vital that Edinburgh City Council deliver on their promise of large-scale improvements to the public transport infrastructure in advance of the introduction of any charging scheme. If they don't, then motorists will simply take themselves and their business to other locations."